Folio: Katie Johnson

Picturing Home

These images, all shot on Long Island in Casco Bay, are without a doubt my favorite collection of work, and closest to my heart.

It is important to me to provide a visual explanation of, and connection to, the place where I grew up. I am creating an ongoing body of work that not only documents the geography and culture of Long Island, but also provides insight into our community.

Growing up here, I had multiple sets of parents and grandparents, and many brothers and sisters. Until I left for college, I had never spent more than a week or so without seeing any of my island family.

Long Island is three miles long by one mile wide, and lies four miles off the coast. There are only five boats to the mainland a day, and just 230 people live here year-round. During the long winter months, isolated doesn’t begin to describe what that feels like. But this community is full of intimate connections between the people and the land, the island’s history, and with each other. Almost everyone is related, one way or another, and no one gets away with keeping any secrets. I have always feared change and the decline of this unique culture and society.

But it has been almost three years since the bulk of this portfolio was taken, and looking back through all the negatives in preparation for this publication, I see that not a lot has changed. Some of the people in the photos are no longer with us, and some have grown up. However, my fear of losing what makes life here special has been challenged, as I see sons become fathers, daughters marry into island life, and generation after generation succeed in preserving Long Island.

— Katie Johnson